L.A. Public Safety After Bratton


At the end of October 2009, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Bill Bratton stepped down from his post leading one of the nation's largest law enforcement agencies. Bratton took charge of the LAPD in 2002, shortly after the department was placed under federal receivership following a string of high-profile transgressions involving Rodney King, O. J. Simpson, a corrupt Rampart Division, and others. Many agree that measurable improvements had been achieved under Bratton's leadership. With federal oversight recently lifted, Bratton spoke at RAND just days before his departure about the effect of mounting constraints on city and state resources and the state of public safety in Los Angeles and California.

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William J. Bratton was appointed chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the third largest police department in the United States, in October 2002. The only person ever to serve as chief of both the LAPD and the New York City Police Department (NYPD), Bratton established an international reputation for reengineering police departments and fighting crime in the 1990s.

As chief of the New York City Transit Police and police commissioner in both Boston and New York City, Bratton revitalized morale and cut crime in all three posts, and oversaw the largest crime declines in New York City's history. In the 1990s, he led the NYPD's development of CompStat, a computerized crime mapping system now used by police departments nationwide. By bringing all crime and arrest data together by category and by neighborhood, CompStat revolutionized policing, enabling officers to focus their efforts in problem areas, armed with real-time information, accurate intelligence, and rapid deployment of resources. From 1996 to 2002, Bratton worked in the private sector, where he formed his own private consulting company, The Bratton Group, L.L.C., working on four continents, including extensive consulting in South America. He also consulted with the Kroll Associates monitoring team overseeing the implementation of the federal consent decree with the LAPD.

Greg Ridgeway is director of the RAND Safety and Justice Program and the RAND Center on Quality Policing.

Ridgeway has worked with a number of major police departments on police-community relations and public safety and is currently leading a consortium of seven of the nation's largest police agencies to conduct research on contemporary police practice and policy, with an emphasis on determining the most cost-effective and results-oriented practices. Ridgeway has also studied gang and gun violence, examining the formation of gangs in Pittsburgh, a replication of the Boston Gun Project in East Los Angeles, and an examination of the source of illegal guns in Los Angeles.

Ridgeway has coauthored To Protect and to Serve: Enhancing the Efficiency of LAPD Recruiting (RAND Corporation, 2009) and Reducing Gun Violence: Results from an Intervention in East Los Angeles (RAND Corporation, 2003). He has received commendations from the California attorney general for his contributions to reducing firearms-related crimes in Los Angeles and has been honored by the American Statistical Association for his innovative analysis of policing issues.